How social media is ruining our creativity
No facts, just personal experience.
I won’t address the studies showing increased depression rates and elevated suicide risk etc., I’m just going to tell you how I feel social media has impacted my life.
I’ve never been a big social media user in terms of engaging on the platforms. I started using Facebook in the early days, and that’s when I was engaging the most. Writing (useless) posts about what I was doing, commenting on friends’ posts, etc. It was new and exciting. For the last ~8 years, I haven’t really used Facebook at all, just for managing events with friends and using the messaging feature.
Then came Instagram, which also was exciting at first. Last year, I unfollowed almost everyone. I would like to think that my closest friends will tell me what they are doing, instead of getting to know those things by looking at their Instagram posts. And people that I know, but aren’t close friends — well, I don’t really care about what they are doing. So I only follow a few companies and people that I think put out content that makes me laugh, teaches me something, or motivates me.
I have used TikTok and Snapchat, but only checked in on them once in a while. Mainly because my work kind of requires me to stay informed about what’s currently popping.
As mentioned, I wasn’t a big user of any of the apps. But they were on my phone. And every time I had some downtime or go to the bathroom, or whatever — I used to go through the apps. Just useless scrolling that doesn’t benefit me in any way.
These aren’t social media, but I feel they have the same effect. I’m not using any subscription services, but I think Netflix or any of the other streaming services do the same things as Youtube for me.
I use Youtube daily. I have a few people I watch whenever they post a new video, I like to tell myself it’s ok because these are people that have inspiring or educational content. Besides that, seeing how these “influencers” build big businesses because of their videos is great for my business to understand.
But then there’s the downtime. When I’ve completed all the important work for the day, and have some free time that I would like to use to read, learn something new, or just take some time to think. It’s so easy to say “I’m tired” and start browsing through different random Youtube videos.
I’m not saying that all social media and streaming services are bad, not at all. I’m also not saying that you should work 24/7. What I’m saying is that I feel like these things kill my creativity. My situation might be slightly different than most people’s, as I work for myself. I don’t have a boss checking what I’m doing. I need to hold myself accountable.
Whenever we have some time off, we immediately start scrolling through any of these services. That means
1) we never reflect, on what we want/what we feel, etc. and
2) we never figure things out. Boredom is one key activity to learn something new or do something creative. When we don’t have anything to do, we start to think about all these different things.
Let’s say I would like to learn how to draw better. When my workday is over, I would have the time to do that — but instead, I start watching Youtube videos. That doesn’t require any effort from me, I can just lie down. As humans, we naturally look for the path of least resistance.
This year, I removed all social media apps from my phone. I can honestly say that it improved my creativity. It also made wonders for my mental well-being. Having “downtime” or “being bored” are good things, for a bunch of different reasons.
If you haven’t gotten anything out of this article so far, here’s one thing I guarantee you will thank me for later: download a language learning app, like Duolingo, and practice a new language for 15 minutes every day. You’ll be surprised how much you learn in one year. 15 minutes of social media every day doesn’t do much, but learning a new language for 15 minutes every day does.